Home » This Was One Of The Strangest Sitcom Cameos Of A Post-Apocalyptic Movie Car: Cold Start

This Was One Of The Strangest Sitcom Cameos Of A Post-Apocalyptic Movie Car: Cold Start

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Remember Chris Elliot? Sure you do. I always liked Chris Elliot’s cocky moron sort of persona that I used to see on the old David Letterman show, and sure, even if “Chris Elliot” was just the product of mid-1980s animatronics and special effects, he was still hilarious in his own strange, surreal way. He also had a goofy and short-lived sitcom from 1990 to 1992 called Get A Life which was about Chris as a 30-something guy who still lived at home and had a paper route; the show seemed on the surface to be like a fairly normal sitcom, but was more of a parody of sitcoms and progressively got more and more unhinged. For example, here’s how Wikipedia describes an episode that was a sort of parody of the movie E.T.:

One of the more controversial episodes featured a character named Spewey the Alien (a parody of the films Mac and Me and E.T.), an extraterrestrial who secretes mucus from under his scales (which Chris proceeds to drink and call the “nectar of the Gods”) and projectile vomits when he becomes emotionally overwrought. At the end of the episode, Chris and Gus barbecued and ate Spewey, although the creature was resurrected inside their refrigerator.

You can see the whole thing right here, because all the episodes seem to be online now, thanks to I guess Fox assuming there’s zero value here. Anyway, it’s nice and strange. There’s an automotive reason I’m bringing all this up, of course: one episode featured a massive truck custom-built by famous car customizer Dean Jeffries (the man who pinstriped James Dean’s “Li’l Bastard” Porsche 550 Spyder, worked on the Batmobile, and made famous show rods like the Mantaray) which was built for a goofy 1970s post-apocalypse movie called Damnation Alley. Here’s the trailer!

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That massive truck-like-thing that looks a bit like a more elegant Cybertruck is the Landmaster, and it’s really incredible because it’s about as fully functional as a movie prop fictional vehicle is likely to get. Built on an articulated truck military vehicle chassis, the 11-ton machine actually drove and could hit speeds of 55 mph thanks to its 6.4-liter Ford V8, The Landmaster used the rear ends of two commercial trucks, an Allison truck transmission, and, as is mentioned in the movie, as many off-the-shelf commercial truck parts as possible so repairs and scavenging parts will be easier. It was great at crawling over obstacles and jumping small holes, and it was even amphibious.

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I remember seeing this thing outside of Jeffries’ shop near Burbank when I lived in Los Angeles; I’d drive past it and wonder about just what the hell that thing was, especially the remarkable tri-wheel setup it sported, which allowed it a remarkable ability to traverse obstacles and rough terrain, and probably rocks or large, stubborn tortoises. It’s said to have survived a 25-foot jump with no damage!

After it was used in the movie, the Landmaster did manage to pick up a few small roles here and there, but I think the most fascinating one is when it got a starring role in an episode of Get A Life, where it played the Paperboy 2000, a sophisticated robotic newspaper delivery system that had been banned in Eastern Europe. The episode focuses on Chris Elliot and all the other paperboys being replaced by the Paperboy 2000, and the sort of John Henry-esque man-vs-machine struggle that follows.

Here, you’re already not working, you may as well watch the whole episode!

Not to spoil anything, but the episode does end with what seems to be the Paperboy 2000 killing Chris. Of course, Chris dies in about half the episodes anyway, so that barely matters.

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I really like how little was done to alter the appearance of the Landmaster; the only changes involved were slapping a bunch of signs that read PAPERBOY 2000 on it and removing the side gun barrels, which were now newspaper-launching ports.

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The gag that this newspaper delivery robot is an 11-ton colossal, exhaust-spewing deathtruck I think works very well.

I’m not sure there’s another relatively famous hero vehicle that has gone from a grim and gritty Mad Max-type of movie to playing a role on an absurd sitcom other than the Landmaster, so you really have to admire the flexibility of this incredible machine.

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The Landmaster is still around; in 2016 it was bought by Gene Winfield’s Custom Shop and is now around Mojave, California, where it can be seen from the road by the shop. I don’t know if it still runs, but I wouldn’t be surprised. That thing is a beast.

Too bad it goes into murderous rampages when delivering newspapers.

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UnseenCat
UnseenCat
18 days ago

If the Landmaster ever appears on Bring a Trailer or similar, somebody is going to have to restrain me from hauling out my wallet and throwing it all down, because I have an irrational urge to turn it into the ultimate overlanding RV.

Well, actually, that was its role in Damnation Alley, before overlanding RV’s were even much of a thing…

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
18 days ago

Why haven’t anyone made this into an motorhome yet?

TDI in PNW
TDI in PNW
18 days ago

Terrible movies and terrible TV shows with very memorable vehicles. My childhood.

Goblin
Goblin
18 days ago

I’m amazed. I actually thought about that movie two days ago, all I remember is the triple wheels, the giant scorpions and the guy on the motorcycle with a mannequin beside him.

And I thought ok, I saw this thing 40+ years ago, in Algeria, censored, and in French. I am NOT going to google it, I don’t care which movie that was, some things are better left forgotten.

T’was just a thought. Now my only thought is little did I know that The Autopian’s browser cookies could sniff thoughts. I’m now afraid.

Last edited 18 days ago by Goblin
Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
18 days ago

I saw Damnation Alley on NBC back in the 80s. I always wondered if George Peppard envisioned himself saying the phrase “killah cockroaches” when he studied at Juilliard.

Anyway, fun crappy movie.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
18 days ago

Sadly the April 2024 streetview image suggests that the shop is closed and the Landmaster is gone.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
18 days ago

The search is over – THIS is the perfect Autopian RV.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
18 days ago

And the “Torch Drives” episode would be EPIC!

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
18 days ago

I remember an episode where he was jealous of his cousin. All of his relatives bragged on the cousin for being rich and driving a Vette. He had $900 and drove a Che-Vette.

Car Guy - RHM
Car Guy - RHM
18 days ago

Seen it sitting outside Gene Winfield’s shop outside of Mojave when I visited in 2018. There was an auction at his shop last fall and the property was for sale. I don’t know what became of it. Gene is still kicking, he’s in his mid 90’s.

Daniil Ivshin
Daniil Ivshin
19 days ago

Totally remember driving past this on the way from high school.
I think the shop was at 3077 Cahuenga blvd. May have been a couple other fun things in that lot but I don’t remember any others specifically. This one was big enough to see from the freeway.

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